Governor Praises State Forest Conservation

Governor Kitzhaber with members of the North Coast State Forest Coalition in the Gales Creek Conservation Ares

Governor Kitzhaber with members of the North Coast State Forest Coalition in the Gales Creek Conservation Area

On June 2nd, Governor Kitzhaber toured the Gales Creek area in the Tillamook State Forest. The Creek, which is surrounded by buffers newly classified as High Value Conservation Areas, is also home to several recent stream restoration projects. Oregon Department of Forestry staff and partner groups lauded the stream enhancement work, which includes extensive log placement to improve fish passage and habitat, but the star of the tour was the Conservation Area:

Conservation areas are a critical component of healthy, well-managed public forests,” said Governor Kitzhaber. “They support our great coastal salmon runs and produce diverse wildlife and plant habitat. They provide clean water, carbon storage, and recreation values that are hard to replace elsewhere. I’m inspired and encouraged to see the Department, the Board of Forestry, and stakeholders working hard to sustainably manage and conserve these important areas for Oregonians.

There are now over 140,000 acres of High Value Conservation Areas designated across Oregon’s 800,000 acres of State Forest land. Over 100,000 acres are in the Tillamook & Clatsop State Forests, where forest health is crucial to providing habitat for coho salmon, marbled murrelets, steelhead, northern spotted owls, chinook salmon, red tree voles, and numerous other species. These lands also provide clean drinking water for over 400,000 Oregonians along with diverse recreation opportunities to coastal and Portland metro residents alike.

The Governor emphasized that the best available science would be used to inform the management of these lands and that carbon sequestration is an important role for these forests going forward. The ongoing balanced management of these heavily-logged lands remains a challenge, but the Governor expressed optimism: “We are using the best available science and strong community partnerships to grow healthy forests and guarantee their benefits reach our children and beyond.”

Still, despite the Governor’s leadership in creating these unprecedented Conservation Areas, the future of these lands is in doubt. Sawmill owners and some county commissioners have proposed that the lands be harvested as though they were private industrial timber lands. As the Board of Forestry writes a new plan to manage these forests, we will work hard to ensure that the best available science and public interest are at the forefront of the conversation.

Ian Fergusson of NW Steelheaders taking a break from the tour to do what he does best: look for fish!

Ian Fergusson of NW Steelheaders taking a break from the tour to do what he does best: look for fish!

To read the full press release, click here.

Portland Residents Provide Input to ODF

On May 19th, the Oregon Department of Forestry welcomed Portland area folks to a roundtable discussion on the ongoing process to rewrite the plan that guides management on the Tillamook & Clatsop State Forests. About 50 people answered the call and spoke up for the values that Oregonians want to see emphasized on these lands.

The dominant theme seemed to be revenue diversification for ODF, which is nearly entirely funded by timber harvests. The current setup makes it very difficult for the Department to emphasize outcomes like clean drinking water, healthy fish & wildlife habitat, and recreation. Rather, ODF is structurally bound to increasing logging levels.  Attendees spoke up for General Fund dollars, user fees, and forest product diversification. The message was clear: “the current formula doesn’t work!”

Wilson River

Also of note was the increasingly important role that forests will play in mitigating climate change. Healthy, biodiverse forests are extremely important as weather patterns become more radically dynamic. Clearcutting our carbon sinks is not part of a solution to a global problem.

The new plan needs to meet a variety of public desires. These lands belong to ALL Oregonians and their management should reflect that. A predictable and sustainable timber harvest is key to ODF and Oregon’s rural communities. However, overambitious logging has proven be costly to these entities.

As the Board of Forestry makes important decisions around what these lands look like 10, 20, 50, and 100 years from now, we hope that they take seriously these critical concerns.

We encourage you to email your own concerns to the Board of Forestry by emailing the Board Secretary.

ODF Hosts Alternative Forest Management Plan Roundtable on May 19th – Please Come!

With your help, the North Coast State Forest Coalition is working hard to ensure balanced management of the Tillamook & Clatsop State Forests to protect fish & wildlife habitat, clean drinking water, and recreation opportunities.  In 2013, we succeeded in creating “High Value Conservation Area” designations across the landscape.

Now, the Oregon Board of Forestry is revising the plan that dictates how these lands are managed.

On May 19th the Oregon Department of Forestry is holding an informal roundtable discussion to share information to collect feedback from the public on how we want these lands managed.  Several recent proposals suggest that these forests should be treated like industrial timber lands or sold—not the approaches we need on our public lands!  The North Coast State Forest Coalition wants to see an emphasis on restoration, recreation, and revenue diversification.

We hope that you will add your voice to this important discussion:

State Forest Management Plan Roundtable:

Monday May 19th, 6-8pm, Auditorium, 1120 SW 5th Ave, Portland

Skyhawk

This is a unique opportunity to speak up for conservation and the protection of our forest’s natural legacy. To RSVP or find out more, email Chris Smith, North Coast State Forest Coalition organizer.

Habitat Conservation Plans – A Tool for State Forests

Habitat Conservation Plans – A Tool for State Forests

Over the next year, the Department of Forestry will be reviewing and possibly re-writing the administrative rules that dictate management of Oregon’s state forests, defining the future of some of our state’s most vital natural spaces. Pressures to increase logging on the Tillamook and Clatsop forests is intense. Populations of marbled murrelets, spotted owls, Coho salmon, red tree voles, and other species already struggle to thrive within those borders without the threat of increased timber sales and management that prioritizes short-term profits over long-term forest health. Those most vulnerable species are only signposts for the vibrancy of the entire temperate eco-systems in these emblematic forests.

10480002546_1f37686b02_m

Coho Salmon are listed under the Endangered Species Act

Every citizen of Oregon has a strong interest in the management of our entrusted state forest land, and a duty to advocate for prudent land use! In the past, the relationship between conservationists and timber companies and their proponents has been defined by embittered conflict and hostility – and often lawsuits. While seeking injunctions can be a strategic method for halting dangerous and illegal practices, there are other methods for pursuing conflict resolution and creating viable strategies for species preservation.

Wilson-River-Corridor-467.jpgThe Endangered Species Act contains a provision for Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs) – a series of permits and mitigation planning that is usually pursued by non-federal entities that want to build on or log land where endangered species reside. Permits allow the construction or other activity, and the Habitat Conservation Plan explains how the party will help the population grow in other ways. Without vigilant oversight from citizens and non-profits, HCP’s can become unwieldy and risky management plans that harm endangered species.  However, they can also be a powerful tool.  The State of Oregon could seek an HCP on state forest land to limit the potential for messy and expensive lawsuits, create and protect important wildlife habitat, and provide certainty around timber revenue.
Read more here to learn more about the history of Habitat Conservation Plans and what they might mean for Oregon’s state forests.

Looking at new ways to manage state forests in northwest Oregon

The Oregon Department of Forestry asked us to pass this note along to our supporters:
-

“THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING!

ODF recently hit the road and heard from community members in Astoria, Tillamook, Forest Grove and Lyons at community roundtable discussions focused on a new Northwest Oregon Forest Management Plan. Discussions and conversations at these forums were driven by participants, while ODF staff captured comments on flipcharts to take to the Board Subcommittee and Board as they work hard to decide on the future of forest management in northwest Oregon.

Total, nearly 110 people weighed in face-to-face. We received positive feedback from all viewpoints at the table, thanking ODF for the opportunity to have candid and honest conversations both with staff, and other community members on a broad range of forest management topics. Conversations centered on the Board of Forestry’s direction to develop a plan that addresses State Forests Division budget gaps, while increasing conservation outcomes on state-owned forests.

We also heard suggestions for improving future outreach activities, and will make adjustments for the next phase. If you’d like to weigh in on your experience at a community roundtable, or have new ideas for state forest-related communications and outreach, please let us know through our online forum here.

On behalf of the Oregon Department of Forestry, thank you for coming out and joining the conversation. We look forward to continuing the conversation. Don’t forget about ways to get involved online: Twitter,Flickr, ODF website.

Also learn more about the process through researching the Stakeholder Group site, and through the advisory groups working hard to ensure the new plan meets revenue goals and conservation outcomes.”

Seeking balance for the Tillamook and Clatsop State Forests